MONDAY, AUGUST 8 The week kicks off with news of the super-heroic peanut butter that's revolutionizing emergency care for starving children in Niger. According to the United Nations, Niger is home to 150,000 children under the age of 5 suffering from severe malnourishment, and according to the New York Times, Niger's hunger crisis is getting a kick in the ass from Plumpy'nut, the Nutella-inspired nutrition supplement that packs 500 vitamin-and-mineral-rich calories into a beige peanut-buttery paste that costs less to produce than milk formula and has a two-year shelf life. The tangible results of the goo are staggering: Fed just two small packets of Plumpy'nut each day, badly malnourished babies can gain from one to two pounds a week; within a month, babies can grow from bug-eyes-and-bones starvation models into regular healthy infants—all of which puts Plumpy'nut's creator, French scientist Andre Briend, on the fast track to secular canonization.
TUESDAY AUGUST 9 Meanwhile back in the states: A Boston mom is facing criminal charges after allegedly leaving her 13-year-old daughter emaciated and on the brink of death after the girl's self-administered navel piercing went horribly, horribly wrong. Details come from the Boston Globe, which reports the improperly pierced teen was discovered by authorities last Wednesday, when paramedics found the girl lying on her mother's sofa wearing an oxygen mask, diapers, and with no detectable blood pressure. Doctors soon diagnosed her with sepsis, a bloodstream infection brought on by the aforementioned DIY navel pierce, which medics say would have caused the girl "incredible pain" within 24 hours, and only gotten worse as the infection grew to life-threatening proportions. Hence the arrest of Deborah Robinson, the wounded teen's 38-year-old mother, who prosecutors claim neglected to call doctors even as her daughter became nearly comatose, with the merciless infection causing significant damage to the girl's internal organs and leaving her incontinent (hence the diapers, which reportedly did double-duty soaking up the various fluids oozing from the girl's belly). Today Deborah Robinson was charged with "wantonly and recklessly permitting substantial bodily injury to a child under 14" and misdemeanor child endangerment, for which she faces up to seven and a half years in jail—a dismally sad end for a lady defended by family friends as a devoted, involved mother and characterized by court psychologists as an increasingly paranoid woman battling mental illness. In advance of her next court appearance, Ms. Robinson will undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine her competency to stand trial. Given Robinson's courtroom explanation of why she denied her daughter medical care (she was afraid that doctors might sexually molest the critically infected girl), a plea of not guilty by reason of mental defect seems likely. Either way, the moral is clear: Don't pierce your own goddamned navel.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 10 The week continues with science, thanks to a new study detailing the weird mental residue left by erotic and violent images. Conducted by Vanderbilt University, published in the August issue of the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review and reported by the web journal LiveScience, the new study found that when people see violent or erotic images, they fail to process whatever they see next. (For instance, during an episode of Being Bobby Brown, the sight of a transient-looking Whitney slurrily ordering Bobby to take her behind a tree and work her over naturally preempts the proceeding scene of Whitney swaying and gazing tenderly at the back of her eyelids.) The effect in perception, researchers say, is akin to rubbernecking on the highway, where your brain tells you to keep your eyes on the road while your emotions force you to peer at the carnage. Thank you, Vanderbilt scientists, for proving that the compulsion to gawk at fucked-up shit is hardwired into our souls.
•• Speaking of gawking at fucked-up shit: Today brought the long-awaited renaissance of the public grooming Hot Tip, provided by Hot Tipper Scott, who was riding a bus up Third Avenue this morning when he spotted a man sitting on a planter and shaving his face. "He was using a standard twin-blade razor and no shaving cream, soap, water, or any other lubricant," writes Scott. "The guy is going to TOWN. He's whipping the razor across his face like he's trying to whittle it into a new shape. He must have some seriously tough skin, 'cause if I tried that I'd be covered in blood in about three seconds." But today's foamless face-scraper carried on without a whimper or a cut. "Plus," writes Scott, "he was wearing a shirt and tie with a nice loud checked jacket and had some high-quality rock-star ringlets, à la Paul Stanley of KISS." Thanks to Scott for noticing and sharing.
THURSDAY, AUGUST 11 Today brought a fresh burst of humiliation to the Catholic Church, courtesy of Monsignor Eugene Clark, the 79-year-old rector of New York City's St. Patrick's Cathedral who in 2002 blamed the Catholic sex-abuse scandal on "the campaign of liberal America against celibacy" and who today resigned his holy post after being named as "the other man" in a Westchester County divorce case. Details come from the Associated Press: According to divorce papers filed by 46-year-old Eastchester man Philip DeFilippo, Msgr. Clark was videotaped by a private investigator entering and leaving a hotel with his private secretary—and Philip DeFilippo's wife—Laura. Lawyers for both alleged adulterers have denied any sexual relationship between the pair, accusing Mr. DeFilippo of distorting an innocent event. But that didn't stop Cardinal Edward Egan from immediately accepting Msgr. Clark's resignation. "He offered his resignation for the good of Saint Patrick's and the Archdiocese," read the New York archdiocese's statement. "He will not be celebrating Mass or the sacraments publicly until this matter has been resolved."
•• Speaking of embarrassments to God: Today marked the 75th birthday of bumbling Baptist fire-breather Jerry Falwell.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 12 Nothing happened today, unless you count the ever-burgeoning shit-storm brewing outside President Bush's vacation ranch in Crawford, Texas, starring grieving mother–turned–political spokesmodel Cindy Sheehan, whose dreams of getting an honest word about the war out of Dubya are as delusive as whatever dreams of protecting freedom and spreading peace led her 24-year-old son Casey to get killed in Iraq. But God bless both of them for trying.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 13 Nothing happened today, unless you count this beguiling bit of dialogue caught by Hot Tipper Rain, who was relaxing at Interbay's Christian-friendly Q Cafe when she heard her young female barista exclaim, "I had another dream about Bono last night," to which her female friend nodded and said, "I dream about Bono all the time."
SUNDAY, AUGUST 14 Nothing happened today.
Send Hot Tips to email@example.com.